Creighton ranks No. 7 nationally in points per game and the Bluejays lead the nation in field goal percentage, including a No. 14 ranking in three-point field goal percentage.
With Illinois State's 65-65 win over No. 15 Wichita State, the Redbirds posted their 20th victory of the season. With win number 20, Illinois State has now collected four 20-win seasons in the five years under head coach Tim Jankovich.
NOTHING NEW, PART II
Also with the win over No. 15 Wichita State, Illinois State advanced to its third State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Championship in five years. With that accomplishment, head coach Tim Jankovich became the first coach to lead his team to the title game three times in his first five seasons at a school since Nolan Richardson. The former Tulsa head coach led the Golden Hurricane to the Valley title game in 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1985, after coaching in his first tournament in 1981.
SNAPPING THE STREAK
Illinois State's 65-64 win over No. 15 Wichita State ended a 24-game losing streak against nationally-ranked opponents. The victory marked the first for the Redbirds over a ranked team since downing No. 14 Iowa, 89-88, on Dec. 29, 1987.
With a win over Creighton the Redbirds would have the opportunity to get some kinks out of their dancing shoes. Despite the storied success of Illinois State basketball, the Redbirds actually have the longest NCAA Tournament drought in the Missouri Valley Conference. ISU has not been dancing since 1998, while the other nine league members have each been to the "Big Dance" since then.
396-STRAIGHT GAMES WITH A TREY
Illinois State enters the championship game with at least one made three in 396-straight games. The last time ISU didn't sink a trey was an 82-43 loss at Creighton, Dec. 12, 1999.
When the Redbird defense is clicking, Illinois State has held 15 opponents this season to under 40 percent shooting, including nine games against Valley opponents, and five teams have shot under 30 percent. In the two 2012 State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament games, Illinois State opponents have shot a combined 30.5 percent from the field and 30.4 percent on threes.
EIGHT IS GREAT
Over the last eight games, one would be hard-pressed to find anyone putting up bigger numbers than Illinois State's Jackie Carmichael. The Redbird junior is averaging 15.3 points and 12.8 points per game and has six double-doubles during that span, including three-straight. Also over the eight games, Carmichael has collected rebound totals of 20, 19, 15, 14, 13 and 12.
THE ALLEN BENCH
Since becoming eligible on Dec. 18, sophomore Bryant Allen has been a key component of the Redbird bench. Seeing action in 20 games, all as a reserve, Allen has posted seven double-digit scoring games this season off the bench. In regular-season Valley games, Allen is ISU's third-leading scorer with 9.9 points per game, in 20.6 minutes per contest. By no surprise, Allen was named to the league's all-bench team.
ANOTHER REDBIRD REBOUNDING KING
With 9.6 rebounds per game, Illinois State's Jackie Carmichael is the top rebounder in the Missouri Valley Conference. With the rebounding title, Carmichael became only the second Redbird to lead the Valley in rebounding, joining Dinma Odiakosa, who averaged 8.7 rebounds during the 2009-10 season.
35 YEARS IN THE MAKING
Illinois State's Jackie Carmichael enters the game with a 9.6 rebounding average this season, including a 9.6 rebound per game mark in Valley contests. If Carmichael is able to keep his average above 9.0 rebounds per game for the season, he would be the first Redbird to do so in 35 seasons. Jeff Wilkins, the father of current Redbird John Wilkins, averaged 11.1 rebounds per game during the 1976-77 season.
A MAD EFFORT
Junior Jackie Carmichael and the Illinois State Redbirds put together an effort fit for Arch Madness in Friday's game against Northern Iowa. Carmichael's five blocked shots were the most by an ISU player in the Valley Tournament, while his 15 rebounds equalled the school record of Derrick Sanders' 15-rebound effort against Bradley on March 4, 1986.
20 REBOUNDS AT ISU - A RARITY
Jackie Carmichael's career-best 20 rebounds against Drake equaled the most rebounds by a Redbird in the history of Redbird Arena. Carmichael's effort matched Anthony Slack's 20-rebound effort against Creighton on Feb. 27, 2008. Prior to Slack, Illinois State had not had an individual 20-rebound performance since Del Yarbrough grabbed 20 caroms against Northern Illinois, Dec. 22, 1978. Ten days later against Oakland, Carmichael hauled in 19 rebounds to pace the Redbirds.
AMONG THE REDBIRD ELITE
Head coach Tim Jankovich posted his 100th victory at Illinois State in the 79-75 win over Oakland. With now 103 victories, Jankovich is only the second coach in ISU history to post at least 100 wins in five seasons at the helm. Jankovich joins Kevin Stallings, who won 107 games in his first five seasons at ISU.
CONSISTENT CARMICHAEL = CONSISTENT WINNING
In 21 games this season, Jackie Carmichael has scored in double-figures. In those contests, the Redbirds have posted a 15-6 record. Carmichael has also collected 15 double-digit rebound games this season, resulting in a 12-3 Redbird mark. When he posts a double-double, ISU is 11-2 this season.
MOORE TO COME
Valley All-Freshman Team honoree Nic Moore has dished out at least three assists in 21 games this season. He leads the team with 118 dimes and boasts a 1.76 assist-to-turnover ratio. Moore has dished out five or more assists in a game nine different times this season, with seven being ISU wins. Moore collected more assists this season, through 19 games, than any Redbird did last season in 31 games.
TOEING THE LINE
Illinois State Jackie Carmichael has made 132 free throws this season on 185 attempts, both of which lead the Redbirds. Carmichael's 132 charity tosses are the most made by a Redbird in a single season since Tarise Bryson converted 207 free throws during the 2000-01 campaign.
This season, Nic Moore became the first Illinois State freshman to post 100 assists in a single season since Victor Williams during the 1998-99 season. Williams finished with 103 assists that season and was named the 1999 Valley Freshman of the Year. Moore has 118 assists, which is the most by an ISU freshman since Ron Jones (212) during the 1976-77 season.
After Bryant Allen's career-high 29 points against Creighton, ISU now has eight players on the roster who have scored at least 20 points in an NCAA Division I game. The eight Redbird players is the most by any team in the Valley. Jackie Carmichael has nine 20-point efforts in his career, including five this season, while Tyler Brown also has five 20-point games this season and Anthony Cousin, John Wilkins, Nic Moore and Jon Ekey have each posted one. Trey Blue had a 20-point effort while playing at Fordham.
Junior John Wilkins bears the nickname "Frenchy" from his teammates, being born on French soil. Wilkins is also being called on to be the Redbird stopper this year by the ISU coaching staff. Boasting similar traits used to describe the "French Defence," Wilkins brings solidarity and resilience to the Redbird defensive game plan. Already this season, Wilkins has proven to be a challenge against some of the Valley's best.
IT'S ALL DEFENSE AND REBOUNDING
It sounds a little cliché, but for ISU it is a reality. When comparing the Redbirds' stats in wins and losses, the variances on defensive field goal percentage and rebounding margin is astounding. In victory, Illinois State is holding its opponents to 36.5 percent shooting, while losses have had Redbird foes shooting 47.6 percent. In wins, the Redbirds own a +7.7 rebounding margin, but have a -5.2 margin in defeat.
THE PROOF IS IN THE NUMBERS
Jackie Carmichael was named to the 2012 All-Missouri Valley Conference Second Team, despite putting up first-team type numbers, especially in league play. Carmichael is averaging 13.7 points and a league-best 9.6 rebounds this season, which is coincidently right in line with Dinma Odiakosa's numbers following the 2009-10 season. Odiakosa, who is the last Redbird post player to earn first-team all-league honors, averaged 12.8 points and 8.7 rebounds that season. In regular-season league games, Carmichael averaged 13.2 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.
WHAT BROWN CAN DO FOR YOU
Valley All-Newcomer Team selection Tyler Brown can hit the outside shot. The junior college transfer paces Illinois State with 64 made three-pointers on the season. With two more makes, Brown would crack the top-10 for most threes in a season at Illinois State.
ON THE REBOUND
A lot has been made of Jackie Carmichael's rebound numbers this season. His 307 boards currently rank No. 9 on Illinois State's all-time single-season best list becoming the first Redbird to crack the top-10 in single-season rebounding since the 1976-77 campaign.
DON'T LET THE NAME FOOL YOU
ISU has had six different players account for this season's starting lineup, yet none of them are from the state of Illinois. The 'Birds have started players from Kansas (Jackie Carmichael), Missouri (Jon Ekey), Alaska (Anthony Cousin), Indiana (Nic Moore), Kentucky (Tyler Brown) and France (John Wilkins).
JUST THE HALF OF IT
The fate of Illinois State's basketball team can pretty much be decided by only 20 minutes of play. In the Tim Jankovich-era, the Redbirds boast a 72-11 (.867) mark when leading at the half. In addition, ISU owns a 88-8 mark (.917) under Jankovich when leading with five minutes remaining in regulation.
THAT 70's SHOW
ISU's success during the Tim Jankovich-era has been pretty much based on 70 points. When the Redbirds score 70 or more points, Illinois State owns a 56-15 record (.789) in his five seasons. When ISU opponent's score less than 70 points, the Redbirds are 87-30 (.744) during that span.
TWO GUARDS SIGN FOR 2012-13 SEASON
North Chicago High School point guard Aaron Simpson and Anthony Beane Jr., a product of Normal Community High School and the son of Illinois State assistant basketball coach Anthony Beane Sr., will continue their collegiate and basketball careers at Illinois State, after each signed National Letters of Intent (NLI) during the NCAA early signing period. Last season, Simpson averaged 22.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game, while sinking 71 three-point field goals. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound senior also led North Chicago to a fourth-place finish at the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Class 3A State Tournament. Beane, who was named the 2011 Big 12 Conference Player of the Year, started the last two seasons at NCHS and averaged 14.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game last year. He led the Ironmen to a fourth-place finish at the IHSA Class 4A State Tournament.